Coffee Break #2 – The 2013 Countdown – The Top Employment & Workplace Developments That Impacted Your Work Environment

“The 2013 Countdown – The Top Employment & Workplace Developments That Impacted Your Work Environment”

Can you believe it? 2013 is coming to an end. It has been an eventful year on many fronts and particularly in the world of employment and labor law and workplace issues. With today’s Coffee Break I thought I would give you my personal list of the top 10 things that happened in 2013 that I believe impacted or will have a substantial impact on the lives of American workers (presented David Letterman-style):

10. Telecommuting Policies were called into question when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer called all telecommuting employees back to work.

9. Unionization efforts were on the rise with campaigns to unionize workers at large-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and fast-food workers at McDonalds and other fast-food workplaces.

8. Legalization of Marijuana – The recreational use of marijuana is now legal in two states – Colorado and Washington. As the debate continues, employers are grappling with developing policies and procedures to determine the extent to which they can manage issues relating to an employee’s use of marijuana, particularly when an employee claims medical-related use.

7. Immigration Reform – Congress passed the “pathways” to citizenship law. As a result, many employers have or are now in the process of updating their policies and procedures to ensure the proper hiring and management of immigrant employees. The federal government now holds employers to a stricter standard with respect to verifying eligibility to work.

6. Same Sex Marriage – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is within the discretion of individual states to determine whether marriage can be between two people of the same sex. 13 States recognize same sex marriage. With the expansion of same sex marriage, employers are working to update their policies to reflect these changes in the law.

5. Social Media – With the expansion of federal and some state laws and guidelines, it now is illegal for employers to ask employees or applicants to disclose their personal social media usernames or passwords as a condition of employment or application for employment. However, employers may limit employees who engage in social media from engaging in conduct that is abusive, discriminating or harassing. Employers also may limit employees from disclosing company trade secrets or confidential information and from claiming to speak on behalf of the company.

4. Prior Convictions Are No Longer An Automatic Basis for Denying a Person Employment – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) implemented guidelines stating that employers can no longer automatically deny a person employment based on a prior conviction. Among other things, employers must conduct an “individualized assessment” of job applicants and must show a correlation between the job for which the employer is recruiting and the prior criminal conduct.

3. California Minimum Wage Increase – California is set to raise its state Minimum Wage to $9.00 per hour by July 2014 and $10.00 per hour by January 2016. This increase places greater pressure on the federal government and other states to consider a raise in the national and other state minimum wages.

2. The Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare” – The goal of this law is to provide comprehensive healthcare to all Americans. The law is set to take effect January 1, 2014.

1. Getting Americans Back to Work – The #1 workplace topic for 2013 was the continuing effort to get Americans back to work! At the beginning of 2013, the national unemployment rate was 7.9%. As of November 2013, it was down to 7.0%. Although there has been progress, we still have a ways to go. What will it take to get Americans back to work? An educated workforce? Skilled workers? Do we need to retrain laid-off or dislocated workers? What are your thoughts?

Thanks for joining in this Coffee Break! Please feel free to continue the discussion by responding to our blog – www.your-workmatters.com below.

By Angela J. Reddock
Employment & Labor Law Attorney
Workplace Blogger at www.your-workmatters.com
December 30, 2013

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